Beloved journalist Isaac Simpson wrote a benign personal essay for Medium about his experience leaving social media (https://medium.com/@IsaacSimpson/how-leaving-social-media-affects-your-mind-c9e22df2c354). When he posted it to a tech subreddit, however, a bunch of commenters freaked out and Isaac's article was removed without his knowledge. Charles and Isaac investigate! Reddit thread in question: https://www.reddit.com/r/tech/comments/7d7ac3/how_leaving_social_media_affected_my_mind/
Isaac and Charles discuss a New York Times article contending that planned obsolescence (the by-design eventual failure of a gadget) is not a real thing. Both disagree and cite their own phone experiences as proof. This leads to an argument over whether news orgs should insert fact-checking parentheticals into their headlines, as well as how Trump's tweets are bad for the country, and if George Soros is too-often unfairly maligned as a dark controller of the left rather than just a liberal version of the Koch brothers. This episode is best listened to on an iPhone that continually crashes.
Audience favorite Evan Williams is back on this week to talk with Charles and Isaac about Richard Kelly's Donnie Darko followup Southland Tales, which was released in the US ten years ago. Charles thinks the film is a flawed masterpiece, Isaac believes it's an ego-driven failure, and Evan falls somewhere in between. Everyone attempts to explain the plot, to little avail. The big question: how does this movie exist? Isaac suggests it's a filmmaker drunk on acclaim and power, Charles claims it is pure artistic expression. The movie's minutia is examined, from the Rock's seemingly-darker skin tone to its possibly red-pilled agenda to anti-Semitism! (Guess who detects anti-Semitism). Also discussed: Isaac's reverse-racist neighbors, adult movie titles, how Obama is the villain of the second Transformers film, and why "the Southland" is the best name for LA County. Southland Tales can be viewed on a variety of streaming services or on Blu-Ray and DVD. Also there are three graphic novels that set up the movie. It's very complicated.
Charles recently read the Walter Isaacson biography of Steve Jobs, and that becomes today's jumping-off point for a conversation with Isaac and returning guest Dan D'Aprile about "great men" and whether what fuels them to achieve is also what powers their dark sides, as seen in countless recent examples like Weinstein, Louis CK, and so many others. Are great men so used to imposing their will on the field in which they excel that they begin applying it everywhere else in their lives? Do powerful men harrass women because they can't conceive of a woman not being interested in them? Walter Isaacson argued that Jobs was a great man but could have been a nicer guy. Is that actually true? You can probably guess everyone's answers to these questions.
Time for an #Elsagate investigation! Charles and Isaac are joined by Evan Williams and Dan D'Aprile for a dark trip down the rabbit hole that is #Elsagate, a broad description for a series of creepy and unsettling videos and cartoons showing up on YouTube, ostensibly aimed at children but featuring inappropriate imagery utilizing pop culture characters like Spider-Man and Elsa from Frozen. Theories abound regarding #Elsagate's origins: is it pedo ring communication? Russian asymmetrical warfare? Corporate intrigue? Everyone presents their own theories, from automation run amok to an attack on Google to force them to more stringently police user content. Everyone plays a game of "Guess Which Conspiracy Isaac Believes In." A very disturbing episode for the whole family!
If you like self-indulgent, meta-babbling, this is the episode for you! Isaac and Charles beg for your podcast reviews and then discuss whether episode titles should contain their number. Also debated: what the description of the show should be (and what it shouldn't be). Should there be a marketing plan? Charles pretentiously posits that Isaac is unable to hear what makes for a good episode because Charles has art school training. Isaac makes himself equally hateable by using the term "professional" repeatedly. They conclude by talking about their worst episodes. Anyway this is 50 minutes you won't ever get back. Maybe rate us after listening to a different episode.
A short conversation between Isaac and Charles on the nature of evil, spurred by Sword & Scale's infamous Episode 20! Should people be locked up just for thinking and expressing abhorrent thoughts? What is evil and why do humans commit evil deeds? Does Genghis Khan count as evil? Also Charles says something mean about actors.
*SPOILERS* Isaac and Charles do not agree on the new Blade Runner film. Isaac thinks it's boring and doesn't go anywhere, Charles thinks it's visually stunning and faithfully follows the aesthetic of the first film. Both agree that whether you like the first movie will determine your feelings about the second. Isaac thinks his distaste for the film is rooted in his lack of interest in stories about whether AI characters have human feelings; Charles posits that the film is a mirror image of the first. Also discussed: Southland Tales, Harrison Ford's performance, and why Ryan Gosling is a likable actor.
It's #MeToo time! Rachel Louie comes on the show to discuss the social media phenomenon and its implications for the advancement of the rights of women. Isaac, Charles, and Rachel all agree as to its value but have some concerns about whether #MeToo will go the way of many social media "awareness" campaigns and simply turn into just another attention-seeking mechanism. The proper pronunciation of the word "ogling" is heatedly disputed and then everyone reluctantly listens to a clip from "The View" about whether Ellen DeGeneres should have been OGLING Katy Perry's breasts. The word "boobs" is said excessively and Isaac describes how women cause men pain when they are scantily clad. This one's for the ladies!
Isaac and Charles go on a listening tour of the various hosts of shows on Gimlet Media, the Ira Glass-inspired narrative podcast company where everyone has an annoying voice, as well as Glass-adjacent NPR podcasts. Isaac plays clips from Reply All, StartUp, Homecoming, Heavyweight, Missing Richard Simmons, S-Town, and the granddaddy of them all: This American Life. The term "whimper fry" is defined and Isaac and Charles alternate cringing at everyone's ironic fake voices. Isaac believes it's a kind of class signaling, Charles proposes it's an attempt to maintain journalistic distance. Whatever the reason, you will be infuriated listening to these Brooklyn hipsters hesitantly croak through their copy.